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>> After reports that US air strike killed scores of pro-government fighters in Syria last week. Reuters exclusively reporting on Thursday that about 300 were either killed or injured in the battle, and that they were Russian mercenaries aligned with President Bashar al-Assad. That is according to three sources familiar with the matter one of which told Reuters 100 men were dead, which would make this the deadliest conflict for Russia in a single batter since 2014 during fighting in Ukraine.
The casualties shows Russia is more deeply involved in Syria than it said and risk being drawn into direct confrontation with the United States. A Russian military doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters at least three plane loads of injured fighters were flown to Moscow last weekend.
Kremlin officials have been downplaying the casualties all week, saying they have no information. A spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry calling the reports of deaths and injuries disinformation inspired by Moscow's opponents. The US and Russia, while backing opposite sides in the Syria conflict, have taken pains to make sure their forces do not accidentally collide.
But the presence of Russian contractors which Moscow denies it's deployed has made conflict between the two world powers in Syria unpredictable.